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Dr Marcela Lipovsek
Dr Marcela Lipovsek profile picture
  • Research Fellow
  • The Ear Institute
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I am a very proud alumni of the University of Buenos Aires where I obtained a Licenciate degree in Biological Sciences (which is equivalent to a BSc+MSc) in 2005, and a PhD in Biological Sciences in 2011.

For my PhD, I studied the molecular evolution of inner ear nicotinic receptors, under Belén Elgoyhen’s supervision. In 2011, I presented my thesis, entitled “Functional consequences of adaptive evolution of α9α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors”. I stayed at the Elgoyhen lab for a short postdoctoral position and afterwards continued to contribute to ongoing projects focused on the evolution of nicotinic receptors.

In 2013, I moved to the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London, joining Richard Wingate’s lab on a Royal Society Newton International Fellowship to study the evolution and development of hindbrain nuclei. Followed by a short postdoctoral position with Anthony Graham, studying the development of the intriguing mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus.

In 2016 I changed gears again, joining Matt Grubb’s lab to start a new multi-(single-cell)-omics, multidisciplinary project exploring the interactions between epigenome, transcriptome and neuronal function, alongside ‘within cell type’ heterogeneity, focusing on the dopaminergic interneurons of the olfactory bulb.

This year, I joined the UCL Ear Institute to set up my research group, funded by a Wellcome Trust / Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, where we are studying the connection between maturation and the potential to regenerate lost sensory hair cells in the inner ear.

Research Summary

In humans, as with all mammals, the loss of auditory sensory hair cells is irreversible. However, different degrees of hair cell regeneration occur in vestibular sensory epithelia, at early developmental stages, or in non-mammalian species. Hair cell regeneration results from division and/or trans-differentiation of neighbouring supporting cells. It is generally accepted that poor, or absent, hair cell regeneration relates to the differentiation state reached by supporting cells and hair cells, but the mechanisms behind this are unknown.

What dictates hair cell regeneration potential? Taking on a multi-layered approach, combining single-cell multi-omics, spatial transcriptomics and transcriptional manipulations, we are studying the vestibular utricle to evaluate the connection between maturation and HC regeneration potential.

We are taking on a comparative approach to identify the cell/tissue level factors that interact during maturation to distinguish the mouse (marginally-regenerating) and chick (fully-regenerating) utricle. Additionally, we are studying the regeneration trajectories of postnatal and adult mouse utricle to zoom-in on the factors driving the age-related decrease in regeneration potential. Finally, our aim is to perform simultaneous transcriptional manipulation of identified targets aiming to overturn the poor HC regeneration of the adult mammalian utricle.

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